How is it that travel memories often seem like a distant memory as soon as I walk in the door after a vacation? The therapeutic relaxing feeling seems to almost instantly disappear as reality slaps me in the face.
A pile of mail, mostly bills, a dusty house that needs to be cleaned, and over a hundred emails that have piled up in my In-Box. Was it really just a couple of days ago that I was getting a massage on the beach under a palm tree? To feel like I’m on permanent vacation, I’ve incorporated my favorite travel memories into my home. I found that it helps keep them alive years after the vacation is over.
Artwork Is Great To Bring Home
One of my favorite ways to keep travel memories alive is to collect artwork from the various countries I’ve visited. I saw the monkey painting on my first day in Costa Rica. I saw it from across the street, through a window and knew I had to have it. A few years earlier I was primed to start a Masters in Primatology (the study of monkeys) studying Capuchins in Costa Rica.
The plan didn’t pan out for a variety of reasons, but my love for primates remains alive and well. Surely I was meant to have this painting! As I entered the store and saw an absence of price tags, my heart began to sink. Artwork with no price tags is almost always a sign that it’s expensive. Dry-mouthed with anticipation I asked the art dealer the price and swallowed when she told me.
I walked away empty-handed, sullen. The next ten days were spent diving with sharks on Cocos, where I met J.P. I thought of the painting every day. He insisted as soon as we got back to San Jose that we see if the painting was still available. We raced back to the store and it was still available. I’ll never forget what he said to me “I wouldn’t want it in my living room, but you should buy it. You’ve talked constantly about that painting for the past 10 days.” It now hangs in OUR living room over our sofa and I’m grateful I made the splurge and bought the painting which now also serves as a reminder of how I met my husband.
Travel Memories From Guatemala
This piece of wood is my second favorite piece of art that I’ve collected along my travels. I was hesitant to buy it due to the price and its large size, which at over 80 cm (31″)was not exactly flying friendly, but bought it anyway since I loved the carvings and the originality of the piece.
When I see this piece that hangs in my entryway, I’m reminded of the friendly shopkeeper in Antigua, who we got to know over a few days until we finally made the purchase. She needed to get some packing tape and left her 4-year daughter with us and told us to teach her some English until she returned.
I was in disbelief, who would leave their child with almost complete strangers? What a wonderful place where you can actually trust strangers. Every time I see the piece, which hangs in our entryway, I’m reminded of this friendly, trusting shopkeeper and singing English and Spanish songs with her daughter.
Some Travel Memories Are Inexpensive
Among my favorite travel memories are also items that were not expensive. But filled with memories. This hand painted vase was painted by the son of the host family I stayed within Cuernavaca, Mexico. I think I paid him $8 US for it. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of my spirited and energetic host family who helped me learn Spanish and welcomed me into their home.
Gifts Are Perfect To Keep Travel Memories Alive
Sometimes it’s a gift that keeps travel memories alive. The vase on the left was made especially for me by one of my Thai student’s grandma who said I was her “favorite teacher in the world”. I purchased the Thai picnic basket on the right for under $15. And brings back memories of picnics held on the riverbank of Lampang with my Thai colleagues and friends.
And The Most Obvious Way: Photos
Perhaps the best way to keep travel memories alive is through photos. They are inexpensive and don’t involve hauling back any bulky souvenirs. My house is filled with travel photos, but our diving photos from Cocos, Costa Rica and Galapagos are my favorites. I have even made their way onto coasters which I had made for less than $20.
I get so much more enjoyment from displaying my travel photos. It’s better than having them in an album which I would rarely look at. I realize that not everyone wants to hand their guest a coaster with a turtle on it, or wants a picture of a shark hanging over their dining room table or a 1.3 meter (50 “) painting of monkeys over their sofa. But it makes me happy and keeps my travel memories alive.